When so many are turning to trap and auto-tune, Squerl Noir‘s sound on his debut EP Dérives feels stripped down and old school in a very refreshing way.

The local francophone hip-hop artist and beatmaker’s four track album really stands out in this day and age of modern and popular hip-hop. It doesn’t revolve around a heavy driving beat or keep you waiting for the big drop or have you hanging off of a formulaic rhythm that mainstream Top 40 audiences have come to expect. Instead, the minimalist beats—while still very creative and intriguing—are more like backing vocals allowing for the deep introspective masterfully woven lyrical fabric of Dérives which takes center stage. This is obvious from the very beginning of the lead track “Solstice” which really allows lyrics to shine through at their brightest like the culmination of years of hard work finally being set free to the world.

What else makes Dérives special? First of all, there’s the fact that Squerl Noir wrote and produced his debut himself. Or the fact that he began testing his craft at open mic nights around town until ICI Musique named him as one of the top 5 artists to watch of the summer of 2018. This drew the attention of Shawn Jobin, who took him on as his hype man and also as an opening act for his fall tour across Canada with artists like Sam Faye and D-Track, Taktika and Sans Pression.

All of this has led him to the release of Dérives, which focuses largely on change—whether it be in Squerl Noir’s life, the world around, or the ever shifting perception of both. While “Mile Feux” is certainly the obvious banger of the EP, the smooth delivery and sing a long potential of the final two track “Ailleur” and “Tempête” can not be overlooked. “Tempête” has my favourite piece of social commentary of the EP with the powerful opening words which convey that he would like to unleash a storm on all the weak men who think with the wrong head, those who needed a “me too” before they would regret their actions.

Have a listen to Squerl Noir’s blistering debut EP Dérives below and keep your eyes and ears peeled for his next performance or release. They are not to be missed.